The weather continues to be oddly tolerable. This pleases me - maybe we're in for another warm winter afterall.
I find it interesting to read statements like "It's beyond me how people can even oppose transhumanism", and their counterpart, things like "It's beyond me how people can even oppose small-town values". Apart from showing that people are not thinking very deeply about their position and why they hold it as opposed to other positions, it highlights, at least in the case of small towns, how variable the experiences people can have with them. Even if one is thinking of a specific transhumanist future/ideal, the experiences people might have with them is still largely an unknown - enthusiasm for a future can be a wonderful thing, but it seems unwise to have at least a bit of worry in there as to how things might go wrong. Small towns, by contrast, are complex but doable to evaluate. Small towns tend to have definite values which they expect people to have and live by. For people who go against these values, things can be very rough, but for those for whom these values fit, things can be very pleasant, much moreso than larger dwellings. It's easier for people to care about other people in towns, and smalltown values often benefit the community - the real core of the difference is that small towns have an active society that patrols and takes care of itself, telling people what's expected of them and taking care of them in some means and circumstances. The first can create resentment -- sometimes this resentment is strictly justified in terms of protecting society, and sometimes it's about shaping the members to be good for society. As an example, people driving around town with their stereo blaring will probably hear that it's unwelcome if they're part of a small community, but not in a city. Cities tend to create the impression that people should mind their own business and tolerate a lot of stuff, and in some cases people get the feeling that it's unsafe to confront anyone because they may be a lunatic with a gun. These confrontations go many ways -- some people may be confronted because they cross community values that seem regressive to modern ears, like challenging social roles. As I understand it, Europe may be different from the United States in this regard based both on conversations on the topic with Europeans and my experiences in being asked to turn down my music player while on a train in France.
Other news worth noting:
- Ban Ki-Moon nominated as the next UN General Secretary
- Religious war in Somalia taken up a notch? I have some friends who see Somalia as a wonderful place because it lacks a central government. Oy.
- French propose a law criminalising denial of the Armenian ethnic cleansing in Turkey. This is likely to make Turkish acession to the E.U. much more bumpy. I don't know for certain whether the ethnic cleansing happened or not - if it did, it should be acknowledged, even if it unravels a lot of ugly history. Note that this is in line with general laws across europe criminalising denial of the German holocaust
- Another Danish cartoon row? This is highly controversial across Europe, but I feel it's important to support - people should be free to mock anyone. Anyone who doesn't accept that should have no place in western society. We did not spend the last hundreds of years creating new freedoms only to give them all away to make it easier to trade with fundamentalists. I am particularly amused by: "The publication a year ago of newspaper cartoons - one depicting Muhammad with a bomb in his turban - led to violent protests in which more than 50 people died in Muslim countries."